Panthers fire head coach Matt Rhule after 1-4 start to season

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Baker Mayfield‘s arrival was supposed to signal a turning point in head coach Matt Rhule’s tenure with the Carolina Panthers. Instead, it spelled his demise.

After a 1-4 start to the 2022 season, the Panthers fired Rhule on Monday, the team announced.

Panthers defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Steve Wilks will replace Rhule as the interim coach. Wilks, who spent one season as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, is expected to be seriously considered for the Panthers’ full-time job, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Monday.

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow was also fired, along with Rhule, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources. Snow joined the organization with Rhule in 2020, following the head coach to the pros after stints at Temple and Baylor. Panthers defensive assistant head coach Al Holcomb is expected to be named Carolina’s new DC, Rapoport and NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported. Holcomb was Wilks’ defensive coordinator in Arizona.

Unlike Rhule and Snow, general manager Scott Fitterer, who was hired in Carolina after Rhule in January 2020, is staying on for now, Pelissero reported.

Rhule’s arrival came with much fanfare and a seven-year, $62 million contract in 2020. The former Temple and Baylor coach quickly built a reputation as a savior, turning both programs into winners in short fashion, and Panthers owner David Tepper believed Rhule was the man to do the same in Carolina. What they received was far different.

Rhule’s time in Carolina produced just an 11-27 record over two-plus seasons, including consecutive five-win campaigns. He’s the first head coach in Panthers history to serve fewer than three full seasons, and the reasons aren’t difficult to identify.

The Panthers have had a bottom-five offense in several metrics since 2020, including points per game (28th), yards per game (29th), third-down percentage (31st), red-zone touchdown percentage (30th) and passer rating (30th). Rhule scapegoated former wunderkind offensive coordinator Joe Brady, firing him in 2021 amid another season filled with offensive hiccups, but no matter the coordinator, the Panthers continued to struggle.

Defensively, the Panthers were significantly better. However, thanks to this offensive ineptitude, Carolina essentially fought an uphill battle on a weekly basis, posting a 1-27 record when the Panthers allowed 17-plus points in the Rhule era, including 25 straight losses.

Much of those struggles can be attributed to a lack of stability at quarterback.


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Nick Shook

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